Mechanical Sympathy

 At the end of a twisty road, deep in the hills, the shop of my dreams…

 

courtesy of www.floorplanner.com, it’s easy to play with, give it a whirl!

Since doing bodywork on my first bike, I’ve remembered how much I enjoy doing it.  The new shop will be a working paint shop with a booth and an oven capable of power coating parts.

PAINT



Open faced paint booth: Paint-booths.com

Price:  $2599

PAASCHE HSSB-30-16 30″ Paint Spray booth

Price: $525

MECHANICS

DSA800SE-GL2 30L (8gal) 1600W dual 20/40KHz Ultrasonic parts cleaner
$850

20 Gallon Heavy Duty  solvent parts cleaner
$115

Anderson Motorcycle Stand
andersonstands.com/workshop_stands.htm
700x2100mm
$2900

Industrial Air
60 Gallon Electric Air Compressor
24x27in footprint
$710

accessories (hoses, connectors)
$50

Lincoln Electric Handy Mig Welder Kit
$450

Lincoln Electric Cutwelder
$330+tanks $300

It’s a work in progress.  Wouldn’t this be a nice thing to retire into?

Learning Curves

Following up on the ‘just tell me the answer‘ post last week, I’ve been trying to find ways to articulate what I’m attempting to do with students so that they don’t become frustrated.  It’s said that familiarity breeds contempt, but what I’m hoping is that familiarity breeds confidence and a willingness to experiment and push the boundaries of student knowledge.  

The germination of self-directed learning should be the goal of instruction in any teaching.  A student who is forever dependent upon a teacher is a poor student indeed.  With that goal in mind I’m working out the process of developing self directed learning in students using Prezi to map out how familiarity breeds confidence and self direction.

 


Some brilliant Google+ sharing by Liz Krane &
Carmelyne Thompson via Josh Kaufman

Explaining this to my senior computer engineers I tried to stress that this process is what I’m looking at, not necessarily what you know.  Even though the seniors are supposed to have previous experience many don’t so the course needs to be flexible in how it approaches a wide range of abilities.  If I see steady growth in familiarity through guided instruction the inevitable result should be the formation of self-directed learning demonstrated through experimentation, collaboration and troubleshooting.  Looking for what a student knows is much less important than looking for where a student is in this learning process towards mastery.  Mastery itself is really just another word for a person who knows enough to error correct and self direct their learning – expertise never came at a teacher’s hand, mastery is always self taught.

Josh Kaufman’s TEDtalk on how 20 hours takes you through the initial steep climb (humbling and intensely rewarding) when picking up a new skills is telling:


We fail to do a lot of these things in school.  Distractions in the form of bells, announcements, lousy chairs and tables, large classes, and dozens of other interferences break focus.  I like to say, “stop learning now, you have to leave” to students when the bell goes and students who were lost in what they were doing are jarred back into the present.

Kaufman’s learning curve,
seems perfectly sensible…

On top of school itself we now have digital technology which is most effective at monetizing us if we ‘surf’ rather than focus.  The habits we develop while being consumers online plague educational technology as students who are used to being digitally shallow out of school bring the same lack of focus to their learning.  That we ignore digital habits and corporate influence in educational technology will probably be the reason it never does what it promises it might do.

Beyond industrialized settings and digital distractions education systems fail to recognize the basic process of learning and in doing so spend a lot of time and money producing under-performing students.  When 50% is a pass even a perfect pass rate isn’t saying much.  If our learning happens on a curve as Kaufman suggests, then we are doing this wrong in just about every possible way.

About a year ago I took a weekend course in order to begin riding a motorcycle.  Difficult and uncompromising it demanded my full attention both in the classroom and for hours in the saddle.  Not paying attention resulted in possible injury (and several people were).  That weekend course might seem too short but it just happens to be about twenty hours long (what Kaufman suggests you need to get over the steepest part of the learning curve).  With the right kind of support (small class size with a 1:4 instructor/student ratio and everything we needed to learn the skill including bikes, space, etc) and an expectation of focused learning, that twenty hours got me over the hump and able to continue developing expertise in a complex skill set that I had no previous experience in.  I’d have to say, anecdotally, that Kaufman’s 20 hours seems right on the money.

We don’t think about learning curves in school.  We don’t consider how students feel when they are picking up a new skill and feel inadequate; feelings aren’t in the curriculum.  Worse, we consider learning to be a twelve year long marathon in school rather than a series of short sprints.  Student goals aren’t always clear or consistent, failure isn’t considered an option and learning itself is less a focus than are irrelevant personal details like your age.  We’d rather bunch students by age than where they are in their learning process.  We lose sight of the possibilities and challenges inherent in the first twenty hours of new learning in favour of decade long statistical growth.

Can you imagine a school guided by Kaufman’s logic?  Students are given focused learning to get them into a self correcting phase and then are expected to self-direct their learning. There would be classrooms with very high student:teacher ratios where the focus is on early learning.  There may be other times and spaces where students are entirely independent and producing their own directed learning.  Instead of a blanket approach our classrooms and schedules would reflect our variable learning curves; our schools would be responsive to how we learn instead of the other way round.

Digital technology would lend itself to this kind of learning by offering information, collaboration and communication to students on a profoundly personalized level.  If we don’t begin taking the training of digital tools seriously the consumerist habits developed by everybody (students and staff) outside of school won’t allow us to de-industrialize education and adapt it to how we learn.

Digital Motorcycle Reading


I just finished Nick Sander’s Incredible Ride on an ipad mini and really enjoyed the experience.  The integrated digital media in the ebook drew a different picture of that trip compared to just a written narrative.  It wasn’t always better (as deep and developed) as a well thought out narrative piece of prose but it offered an interesting reading experience in a different way.

I’ve tried reading digitally before with older ipads and other tablets but have been unsatisfied with the quality.  The Retina display on this Mini is a revelation though, it has better screen resolution than my 15″ laptop; it’s so sharp and clear that it’s shocking!  I also find my eyes don’t get tired reading off it (perhaps as a result of that clarity).  With all that in mind I started thinking about alternative ways to read my motorcycle media.


My Cycle Canada subscription is coming to an end and I want to renew, but I think I might go digital.  I’m also keen to get into Bike magazine and Adventure Bike Rider magazine, both UK titles that cost me $13+taxes a pop when I find them in a local store.  Rather than get stuck into another year of dead trees I tried reading digital samples on the ipad Mini.
  

Bike Magazine showed the multi-media possibilities of a digital magazine.  The embedded video and layers of information available in the digital copy were fantastic.  The high resolution images on that Retina display were jaw dropping.  There is no doubt the digital copy is the way to go, and at £48 for a year (£4/$7.40CAN per issue) it’s a much better deal than the $15 with taxes I’m paying at Chapters for a paper copy.

ABR is an even better deal.  Instead of $15 an issue in Chapters I’m looking at £20 
($37CAN) for a year with access to all back issues.  I’m going to check out its digital content, but if it comes anywhere close to what Bike is doing then it too will be a no-brainer.

Cycle Canada was a bit more basic.  The online sample said it wasn’t at full resolution, so it expects me to commit to digital without knowing what it will look like, which seems a bit weak. 


The only downside to the digital copy is that I can’t settle into a hot bath with an ipad.  Maybe I’ll re-up Cycle Canada on dead trees for a while longer so I have an amphibious option.

If you’ve tried digital and not liked it give it a go with Apple’s Retina display, it might surprise you.  The additional depth and media you get from the digital copy only seals the deal.

MotoGP And The Dragon’s Tail

I noticed that the US MotoGP race is in August at Indianapolis this year.  I’ve never attended a MotoGP race before, but it makes a great excuse for a road trip!

Mapping it out in Google, I immediately extended the trip to hit the GP first and then continue on to the Tail of the Dragon before riding up the Blue Ridge Parkway and returning into Canada at the Thousand Islands.

The round trip would be just over thirty-five hundred kilometres.  The race happens over the weekend of August 8th to 10th, so leaving on the Thursday morning would get us there Friday afternoon, we could catch Saturday qualifying and then Sunday’s race and leave Monday morning.  But rather than head back north we’d be heading south east for The Tail of the Dragon!

Working our way up the Appalachian Mountains, we’d go from the Tail to the Blue Ridge Parkway to the Skyline Parkway before pushing back north to re-cross into Canada at The Thousand Islands.



The trip consists of three high speed sections (Ontario to Indianapolis, Indianapolis to Knoxville and Front Royal VA to Thousand Islands), and some slow sections (Tale of the Dragon, Blue Ridge and Skyline Parkways).


With a three night stopover for the Indie race, the schedule falls into about a ten or eleven day trip:

Leave on the Thursday, get to Indianapolis on Friday afternoon, Saturday qualifying, Sunday races, Monday morning departure and cover some ground, Tail of the Dragon on Tuesday, Blue Ridge Parkway Wednesday & Thursday, Skyline on Friday and then the run north for the border, we’d be back in Canada  on Sunday, August 17th.
Tail of the Dragon in Tennessee.
Blue Ridge Parkway in the Appalachians.



This would be a MotoGP event at a legendary venue followed by some epic rides in mountains that we simply don’t have in Ontario.  The start is by my place, the finish is by my buddy Jason’s place.  He didn’t take his bike out at all last year, I’m hoping this changes his mind.

Putting The Ninja Back Together

We had our first above zero day this week and I giddily began rebuilding the Ninja thinking that I’d have a chance to take it out soon.  It’s been snowing all day today and all hope it lost, but when the sun was out I could finally get to the paint touch ups needed.  The insulated garage isn’t ideal for painting if the outside temperature is under minus ten Celsius which it has been for most of the winter.


On my first day of spring I popped open the garage door and touched up the headlight cover and fuel tank, both of which had imperfections in my initial paint application.  Now that they’re clean and perfect, I can rebuild the front end.



With the temperature up the paint cures on the body panels very smoothly.  It needs to be well above 10° Celsius for the paint not to bead and bubble on the surface.  The front fairing and fuel tank lay in the warm March sunlight and cured perfectly – it was about 20°C.  The Rustoleum paint on the right covers fantastically well.   If you’re looking for paint that will cover smoothly on plastic and metal, this is the stuff.


I’m going to two tone the air intakes on the fairings following a design that more current Ninjas use.  Unfortunately I didn’t heed my own advice and I rushed in there yesterday morning when it was still too cold and the paint beaded.  Today I’m going to be sanding it down so I can get a smooth coat on in the heat.



It was nice to have the garage open and to be finishing up the winter repairs, maintenance and body touch ups.  It’s supposed to be a warm (by warm I mean above zero) day again today.  With the insulated shop and the sun shining in I should be able to finish up the paint and begin to rebuilt the frame on the bike.

While casting about for a fairingless streetfighter option for the bike I came across some cheap options for replacing fairings.  I’d still like to try and source some of the bodywork from the fairingless ER6N, but it wasn’t available in Canada in 2007 and I’d have to go to Europe to find the pieces.  It looks like the fairingless bike has small plastic covers over the coolant tank and that’s about it.

Ebb & Flow

Originally published on Dusty World in March, 2014.

Many moons ago I found myself hiring automotive technicians for Quaker State.  There were a couple of odd things I did that helped find people who could survive in our tough working environment.  One was toss any résumé that was full of grammar and spelling errors.  I didn’t care if a tech had perfect grammar and spelling, but I did care that if given the time they didn’t take pride in their own work.  The other thing I did was invent an emergency that interrupted the interview.  The whole point of this was to test their initiative and see how they would respond to a change in tempo.

These interruptions became more and more complicated as the other guys on the shop floor got involved.  What started off as a, ‘could you help me move a heavy thing’ turned into faked medical emergencies or whatever else struck the fancy of the staff.  The guy who just sat there while everyone else shifted into overdrive wasn’t getting the job.

You see this kind of unresponsive stuck-tempo everywhere; employees who work at a walking pace are the new normal and it’s no different with students.  This kind of thinking isn’t just found in work or school, but even in sports.  People who throw themselves at something with any kind of intensity are becoming vanishingly rare.  I suspect this is a response to modern management tactics based around fear and control.  Those tactics have also been adopted by education, and students have responded with a similar protective apathy.

This apathy is a combination of digitization, systematization and the business-think that oversees these processes.  Current business leadership revolves around creating an unbalanced workplace where fear and uncertainty drive employees into blind obedience.  This highly charged methodology is completely unsustainable, but then it doesn’t have to be, there are always more employees to throw on the fire.  Realizing potential and maximizing efficiency are irrelevant to a modern manager, the goal is short term gain and control.  Digitized, data driven workplaces (and classrooms) are designed systemically to collect data that supports the system; statistics are as opinionated as politics.  This Taylorist wonderland is overseen by caffeinated managers whose only approach is to spin their employees into a panic at every turn (those managers themselves are managed in the same way).  The permanent engagement approach to learning is modelled on this thinking.

Days of lower energy, contemplative work and periods of off-task behavior are perfectly normal and even beneficial to the development of complex skills, but this is considered a failure in the modern world.  When working on anything you should aim for sustainability as well as intensity, but education has followed management thinking in an effort to systematize and control.

A byproduct of this shortsightedness is the inability for students to amp up their focus and overachieve because modern education wants them to be giddily engaged all the time.  The only way to achieve the highly agitated state of permanent engagement is to present simplistic, short term learning that offers constant reward.  Working toward anything other than immediate gratification is a sure way to turn off the hyper engaged learner.

I have this up in my classroom. Any student that thinks a flurry of activity in the final weeks can make up for weeks of absences and apathy is kidding themselves.

 The issue I’m seeing in many students is a benign neglect toward developing complex expertise.  I’d argue that the decline in mathematical ability in Canadian students is a result of deemphasizing foundational skills in favour of short term learning strategies.  These short term strategies stress engagement and success for all at the cost of building complex expertise.  

Expecting students to work towards something other than immediate skill (the kind found in most video games) is becoming a lost art.  Long-term, complex skill sets fall apart when we can’t expect students to follow along for more than thirty seconds at a time without some kind of Pavlovian payoff.

There is an ebb and flow to everything we apply ourselves to.  For someone seeking mastery, even the ebbs have value, creating a deeper sense of familiarity and comfort.  Anyone who has soaked in their discipline without a clear sense of direction knows what I’m talking about.  From the confidence that arises out of those ebbs we push beyond boundaries and surprise ourselves with new learning when we are flowing again.

Whether it’s the workplace or a classroom, being hyper-engaged all the time just isn’t that productive, especially if you’re building long-term, complex expertise.  If we’re all really just edu-tainers, then I guess we don’t have to worry about that, just be sure to collect the data needed to justify how well the system is working.

2014 Toronto Motorcycle Show

A ninety minute drive down to the Direct Energy Centre at the CNE in Toronto got us to the 2014 Toronto Motorcycle Show.  Having been to our first motorcycle show in January, it was interesting to note the differences here.  The TMS is much more focused around manufacturers.  I complained that only Harley-Davidson and Kawasaki showed up to the ‘supershow’ in January, but at this one all the major manufacturers were present.

What else was different?  The Supershow at the International Centre in Mississauga meant free parking and a discount on admission, my son and I were inside for about twenty bucks.  The TMS has you ante up $14 to put your car somewhere and then $17+$12 to get inside… it ain’t cheap.  Once you’re inside it’s significantly more focused and dense, mainly because there are so many manufacturers present.  The Supershow had many more stalls of local equipment vendors and clubs, it had the feel of a bike motorbike jumble and it was HUGE; we walked for hours and missed an entire hall.

One show wasn’t better than the other, but they feel like very different events.  My son greatly enjoyed the trials bike show at the TMS, and having space out back to show bikes in motion was a nice thing we didn’t see at the Supershow which seemed more like a sales focused event.

I’d said Kawasaki and HD were outstanding for being the only manufacturers to show up at the Supershow.  At the TMS it came down to who took the time.  Suzuki seemed entirely disinterested, Honda was absent though with lots of bikes to sit on, as were many of the other manufacturers.  

I don’t doubt they all hire people or bring them in from dealers for this sort of thing, and we were there on the morning of the last day of the show, but BMW went above and beyond.  They not only took the time to talk to me but also made my son really happy with some stickers and a poster, nicely done BMW.  If you’re going to put on a public face at a show like this, exhausted, disinterested staff isn’t the way to go.

As a new rider I’m still getting a feel for manufacturers.  I’d add BMW to Kawasaki and Harley Davidson as manufacturers who are willing to go the extra mile to ensure that your riding experience is exceptional.  This is anecdotal, but it’s still my experience.  HD and Kawasaki were both at the TMS in force and were once again very customer focused.

Triumph was there and I have a soft spot for such a successful manufacturer from my homeland, but once again the people on the stand were harrowed and indifferent, at least I managed to get a poster!

I had a nice chat with the Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group and look forward to eventually owning an old bike and becoming a member, they seem like nice people.

The Toronto Motorcycle Show isn’t cheap, but it is dense with opportunities to sit on many bikes (though not KTMs), and see some fantastic trials demonstrations.  Some manufacturers are more present than others, and I’d head over to BMW, Kawasaki and Harley Davidson if you want some quality customer service.

Here are some other pictures from the event:

Hayabusa!

The Motorbike Show & Wild Camping

I’ve been consuming motorcycle media at a voracious rate while we’re buried alive in snow.  You probably know about the obvious stuff like Long Way Round, but I’ve been trying to find less known (in North America) faire.  Here is a quick list of some off-the-beaten track stuff that you might not have seen from Great Britain:

ITV’s The Motorbike Show:  Henry Cole of World’s Greatest Motorcycle Rides fame does reviews of motorcycle culture focusing on racing, restoring and interviewing people involved in motorbiking.  I’ve really enjoyed this show, I wish it got more attention here in North America.


Wild Camping by Jo Sinnott is an epic journey from Ireland to Portugal through the best parts of Europe.  Jo takes you wild camping while travelling on her Triumph Bonneville.  If you’re interested in long distance riding, Jo not only shows you through the rough camping ethos but also looks into the mindset you need to survive a long road trip.

ITV and Travel Channel UK represent motorcycle and travel culture on the leading edge. I only wish they were more available in North America.  OLN?  Speed Channel? Pick these up!

 

A Living Motorcycle

Recent advances in battery technology have focused on bio-technology, specifically looking at how to draw electricity out of the energy rich nature of natural sugars.  How much energy is stored in glucose?  A recent experiment drew about 10 times the electricity of a lithium ion battery out of a glucose energy cell on a per kilogram basis.  Battery weight has long been an issue, as has duration.  Focusing on bio-technology might resolve both of those issues while also producing a green electricity storage solution.

Electric bikes will start to take on the aspects of gas bikes
if they suddenly have much lighter batteries.

Perhaps most promising, research labs around the world are seeing success with enzyme based bio-tech batteries.  With many researchers pushing forward on this, we may see marketable solutions appearing in two to three years.

What does this mean for motorbikes?  Imagine a Zero motorcycle with a battery that weighs half as much (making it lighter than a gas equivalent motor), that produces four times the range (better than a gas motor).  If the glucose solution that provides the charge can be packaged separately, you may very well pull into a refuelling station in 2020, pull the spent fuel canister out from where your gas tank used to be and buy a new one.  You’d be ready to go in five minutes, pretty much just like a modern gas stop.

That spent canister would get recycled, the spent glucose solution either reused or composted.  Since new solution is created primarily from natural sugars, it would be a matter of growing more fuel.  Enhancements to the enzymes that break down the sugars would open up a strange new bio-tech world of performance enhancements.  People would customize how their bikes consume sugar in order to focus on performance or efficiency.  Advances in enzyme efficiency would allow for greater range and power.

These living bikes would consume sugars just like their riders do, they’d even breath as they did it.

The Brammo Empulse, a shockingly fast electric bike still hobbled by battery weight and range, but for how long?

Then vs. Now

I’ve been wondering why motorbikes don’t seem to have moved on in the way that cars have.  To that end I’m trying to find comparisons between 1960s (pre-oil crisis) vehicles and current vehicles.  In trying to keep apples with apples and find stats for similar vehicles.  The problem is a 1960s Cooper Mini doesn’t have anything like the crash worthiness of a new Mini Cooper, and that crash worthiness costs weight, though not as much as you might think.  The real cost in weight is our expectations around size.  The new mini is significantly larger mainly because minimalist, small cars don’t sell.

Our improvements in engineering efficiency are often overshadowed by our need for bigger, more plush vehicles.  My thinking is that this shouldn’t be such an issue on a motorbike, it’s not like our bikes have gotten much bigger in the way that cars have turned into SUVs.

An example, the Mini Cooper.  The new car has nothing mechanical whatsoever to do with the old one.  Other than the name and marketing niche, these cars are very much creatures of their times.

length 3,054 mm (120.2 in) (saloon)
Width 1,397 mm (55.0 in)
Height 1,346 mm (53.0 in)
Kerb weight
Horsepower
Fuel Economy
617–686 kg (1,360–1,512 lb)
1275cc / 78hp (16.35cc/hp)

6l /100kms




Dimensions (LxWxH): 3723 / 1683 / 1407 mm
Kerb weight: 1150kg – 1185kg
Fuel Economy: 6.1 l/100kms
Horsepower:  1600cc / 121hp  (13.22cc/hp)
So the new car is:
18% longer, 17% wider, 4% lower
46% heavier all with the same mileage!
                                       courtesy of Mini.

So what you’ve got is a much bigger car that offers all the modern amenities in addition to more space that gets about the same mileage, and it does it with an engine a third larger than the old one.  Put another way, the new Mini is about twice as efficient as the old one (it uses the same amount of fuel to move almost twice as much car).  On top of that Mini needs three less cc to get a horsepower out of an engine.  It isn’t much, but it’s an improvement, unlike the bike below.

1969 Honda CB750

Dimensions

Wheelbase

L 85 in (2,200 mm)
W 35 in (890 mm)
H 44 in (1,100 mm)
1460mm
Seat height 31 in (790 mm)
Weight 218 kg (481 lb) [1] (dry)
491 lb (223 kg) (wet)
Fuel capacity 19 L (4.2 imp gal; 5.0 US gal) [1]
Fuel consumption
Horsepower
34.3 mpg-US (6.86 L/100 km; 41.2 mpg-imp)
68hp  (10.82cc / hp)

Here is Honda’s modern ode to the CB750:
The Honda CB1100A
Dimensions: 1490mm wheelbase
Weight:        248kgs  547lbs – wet
Mileage:       41mpg
Horsepower: 82.5 hp (13.8cc /hp)

At 1140cc, the new Honda is 390ccs larger, though follows the same engine layout as the old CB750.  They are within 3 cms of each other as far as wheelbase goes – bikes aren’t significantly physically bigger in the way that four wheeled vehicles have put on weight in the past forty years, though cars seem to have done it while finding ways to get way more out of each litre of gas.   That new mini is a much bigger vehicle, almost twice the size of the original in terms of mass.  Bikes haven’t grown anything like that, yet their mileage is pretty much the same.  

Keep in mind we were comparing a twelve hundred cc 1969 Mini with a 1.6l modern Mini, a 25% increase in displacement.   The new CB1100 has 33% more displacement on a heavier bike and gets the same mileage as the old carbureted one.  Why is the new bike so much heavier?  It’s not like a car – it isn’t larger than the old bike, it isn’t carrying airbags and all sorts of other modern safety gear other than ABS.  To top it all off a carburetated 1969 CB750 used to use 10.82ccs to make a horsepower, the new one uses 13.8ccs to make a horsepower.  A lot of that could be tuning the engine for more torque, but here we are, 45 years later using more displacement to make less power?  What the hell is the point of fuel injection?

In 45 years of material development, the new Honda is 56lbs heavier.  The 1969 CB750 is within point one of a mile per gallon of the 2014 CB1100.  You might say it’s not a fair comparison because they’re not both 750cc bikes.  Honda’s only current ~750cc bike is the NC750x, which is a parallel twin rather than a four cylinder.  Even with that disparity the NC750x tips the scales at 483lbs, still 2 pounds more than the 1960’s 750 four cylinder.  And it’s not like Honda isn’t an engineering powerhouse.

If you say the motorbike vs. car argument isn’t fair, how about motorbikes to bicycles?  A Tour de France bike in the 1960s weighed about 22lbs.   Modern bikes are limited to 15lbs, though in 2004 Armstrong had a 14.5 lb bike and without the limit a 10lb bike is more than possible.  If bicycles have dropped 30% of their mass in the last 45 years, why not motorbikes?

If we look at this from an automotive/bicycle equivalent efficiency angle, the new Honda CB750 should have a 20% more efficient engine and weigh 30% less.  The 2014 CB750 happy memories bike should get about 80mpg, weigh 344lbs and produce about 82hp.  This bike would have a power to weight ratio of about 4.2lbs per horsepower, approaching what some of the fastest sports bikes in the world have.  The sensible choice then would be to make the bike a 650cc CB throwback, which still produces a  better power to weight ratio than the CB1100 and weigh even less with the smaller engine.

I asked before and I’ll ask again, why haven’t bikes advanced at the same rate as cars (or bicycles)? Why isn’t the new ode to the CB750 a CB650cc bike that produces more power, uses less gas and rides far better than its prehistoric inspiration?  Motorbikes are stripped down, simple machines, in many ways still very similar to the machines made decades ago.  With that in mind, why don’t we see the radical evolution in technology evidenced in the Mini and in racing bicycles in the past 45 years in the Honda CB750/CB1100?  If we aren’t larding up bikes into SUVs (though some people are), the efficient burning of gasoline should have produced astonishingly high mileage numbers by now.  Where is the direct injection? Where are the intelligent drivetrains and engine management systems that have produced cars that weigh twice as much and still burn the same amount of fuel?  Where is my frictionless magnetic drivetrain with integrated brakes?  Where is my kers?


With an integrated kers system, I could be riding a 400cc bike that when the kers kicks in feels like a 1000cc bike, then recharges while I ride.  I could pull onto the highway or overtake on a super light bike that can feel like a one litre rocket when I need it and sip fuel like a 400cc machine when I don’t.

Zero Motorcycles: all electric, but I don’t know that we
have to go to that extreme yet, we’re not exploring
internal combustion that well.

Because motorbikes are small and inherently efficient compared to cars, manufacturers haven’t pushed engineering limits in the way that they have with other vehicles.  I’m looking for the future of motorbiking, and it doesn’t feel like manufacturers are testing limits in a way that makes my choices feel any different than they were a decade ago, let alone four.